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Morning Song


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Performer Notes
  • Personnel: George Cables (piano); Eddie Henderson (trumpet, piano); John Heard (bass guitar); Sherman Ferguson (drums).
  • Audio Remasterer: Jon Rosenberg.
  • Liner Note Author: Donald Elfman.
  • Recording information: The Keeystone Korner, San Francisco, CA (1980).
  • Photographer: Tom Copi.
  • Morning Song is a compelling portrait of pianist George Cables. Best known as a sideman for his work with everyone from Art Pepper and Woody Shaw to Dexter Gordon and Bobby Hutcherson, Cables has nonetheless amassed a sizable catalog as a leader. This date, issued on High Note in 2008, was recorded in 1980 at the famed Keystone Korner in San Francisco. Cables is featured in two different contexts here, and judging by the sound of the recording, it comes from two different gigs. Cables plays solo on six of the ten cuts here. They range from standards like "Who Can I Turn To," "Polka Dots and Moonbeams," "As Time Goes By," and "I Remember Clifford," to a pair of tunes by Bobby Hutcherson: "Stroll" and "Little B's Poem." These performances are simply stellar, and in places breathtaking. Cables is one of the great rhythmic pianists out there who seamlessly weaves the long jazz piano tradition of players like Art Tatum and Teddy Wilson into the work of more percussive and strident improvisers like Jaki Byard and even Randy Weston. The Hutcherson titles are especially rewarding, as his own rhythmic attack and deep blues feeling are articulated through his command of the post-bop canon. On the four remaining selections, Eddie Henderson, bassist John Heard, and drummer Sherman Ferguson accompany Cables. And here's where the trouble lies: the music is more than sufficient throughout, but the sequencing feels like this was pieced together from a number of performances. The sound quality in places is dodgy -- particularly on the drums, which sound all hissy, with a load of mic sheen. An ensemble tune precedes three solo numbers, then come two more group performances, followed by two more solos and ending with an ensemble tune. Joe Fields of all people should know better. The flow of this CD is uneven, jaunty, and lacks continuity. While the performances are flawless throughout and the set swings like mad, the strangeness of the dynamics make it difficult to listen to all the way through. ~ Thom Jurek
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